Already assured of a semifinal berth at the BWF World Tour Finals, India's P V Sindhu on Friday suffered a three-game defeat to top seed Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand in her third and final group A women's singles match in Bali on Friday.
Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medalist, couldn't apply enough pressure on the world no. 10 Chochuwong to go down fighting 12-21 21-19 14-21 in a match that lasted an hour and 11 minutes. This was Sindhu's third loss to the 2016 world junior champion Chochuwong in seven meetings. Sindhu thus finished in the second position in group A, behind Chochuwong. Her opponent of the semifinal stage will be decided in a draw later in the day.
Earlier, Kidambi Srikanth bowed out of the season-ending tournament after losing to second seeded Malaysian Lee Zii Jia 19-21 14-21 in 37 minutes in his third and final group B match. It was Srikanth's second loss to the world no. 8 Malaysian, who had defeated the Indian at the Hylo Open in straight games earlier this year.
Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy too ended their campaign though they eked out a hard-fought 21-19 9-21 21-14 win over England's Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith in the inconsequential third and final group match.
Sindhu, the reigning world champion, was quite erratic and couldn't control the rallies against Chochuwong, who rode on her quality of strokes to stay a step ahead. In the first game, Sindhu erred in her lengths early on as Chochuwong led 5-3. The Indian managed to collect a few points but she never looked in control. Chochuwong took the initiative and kept things under her control, leading 11-6 at the interval.
The Thai player got rewarded for her angled and crisp returns, while Sindhu lacked consistency as Chochuwong took 17-9 lead. An attacking return gave Chochuwong eight game points and she sealed it when Sindhu went wide again.
After the change of sides, Chochuwong, playing with the drift, committed few unforced errors as Sindhu led 6-3 before managing a healthy five-point advantage at the break with her rival going long. Three defensive lapses from Sindhu saw Chochuwong narrow down the lead to 9-12. The duo played some exciting rallies next with the Thai managing to level the scores at 16-16. A lucky net chord helped Chochuwong get into a slender 18-17 lead but Sindhu again fought back to grab a game point when her rival made a judgement error at the backline. Another tightly-fought rally ended with Chochuwong going wide as Sindhu made a comeback into the contest.
The decider started on an even keel but Chochuwong managed to take a 11-7 advantage at the breather. The Thai kept gathering points with her precise returns, moving to 17-14. Chochuwong reeled off three straight points and then Sindhu made a judgement error at the backline as the Thai celebrated her victory.
Earlier, Srikanth trailed 0-3 at the start but made his way to a slim 9-8 lead at one stage. An alert Lee, however, ensured a two-point advantage at the interval. A six-point burst helped the Indian to again grab a 17-15 lead but he let it slip as Lee pocketed the opening game.
Srikanth made a good start in the second game, moving to 7-3 advantage but Lee once again turned the tables, jumping to a 13-9 lead and then kept his nose ahead to eventually shut the doors on the Indian.